At first I was going to write this anonymously, but have decided that I am ok with my story and I will share it proudly. It is MY story to tell, nobody else.
I recently tuned 50 years old. It scared me and I dreaded this milestone birthday because of what I had been through up to this point in my life.
When I was very young and newly married for the first time, I found out I was pregnant. My husband was deployed in the Navy for the entire pregnancy. I went through most of it alone but did have some support from my mother towards the end. It was a perfect pregnancy and every appointment was met with smile and excitement. But due date was July 1. On June 28, I had a check up to ensure everything was still good before delivery. I went into the room and waited for the ultrasound to start. Everything was normal. At some point, I knew something had changed. I knew something wasn’t right. I told the nurse that is there is something wrong you need to get my friend from the waiting room. I didn’t want to hear any news alone…mind you, still I had no idea what was going on. When my friend walked into the room I knew this was not good. The Dr came in and said “You have experienced fetal demise.” Fetal what? It was not registering that my daughter had passed away before she was even born. 3 days before her due date? How can this be? The Dr said, “I am afraid she no longer has a heartbeat, you are going to have to deliver immediately.” Ok, let me process this. No heartbeat? Demise? The questions started and things started moving so fast. I told everyone to stop. I was leaving and going home to figure things out. You can’t do that I was told. I can and I am. I left the hospital knowing my daughter was gone. I had to go home and tell all the people that were waiting for her arrival that she was gone. I had to do this alone. And now, they want me to go through every stage of labor and delivery and end up not having my baby. To leave the hospital and leave my baby behind? Needless to say, I had to go back. I had to do this. My mother and my stepfather with me from that point on. I was scared and I was shocked and broken. I wanted this little girl more than anything in my life. I blamed God. I was angry. I was so mad. I went through the motions…went through labor and delivery. I held my beautiful daughter, Gabrielle. I said good bye at the same time I said Hello. My life changed that day forever.
My life went downwards. My marriage ended. Was I a mother? Was I not really mother? The funeral will forever affect me. I planned a funeral for my child when I still a young adult. Anger was the only emotion I knew and felt. I went dow the wrong path. I wanted a child but didn’t want to replace Gabrielle. I lost my future and I was COMPLETELY lost. I didn’t know who I was or where I fit in anymore. Time went on and I processed and dealt with her death the best I knew how. Looking back on that time….I was doing no such thing. I was merely surviving.
Years went by, I met another man who was much older than me. We got pregnant. What a scary time. This is when my anxiety and depression started. I couldn’t focus on anything but losing this child. The anxiety took over my life. The depression kept me in bed for months. During this time, I started to realize that the relationship I was in was not healthy. It was not what I wanted forever. But what could I do? I’m pregnant by this man and I can barely function to take care of myself. I can’t leave now. Where would I even go??? At this time, I started to get a little stronger and I started going to doctors. I started focusing on my mental health. I needed to be healthy for this child. The god I was so angry at….i was reaching back out to. I was talking to him. Praying to him. I remember bargaining with him if he would let my child live. I gave birth to a very healthy baby boy. My life was full of love. However, the fear of something happening to him was slowly creeping in and slowly taking over. The medicines for the anxiety and depression weren’t working. My mental health was suffering. I was not getting any help from the father, he was more worried about his alcohol and drugs he could get a hold of. I was trying to balance everything alone. I was trying to keep my marriage together, trying to take care of a newborn and work. It became too much for me. I ended up having to get different medicines and started therapy. During this time, I had met someone else. I thought at the time he was my knight in shining armor. He was going to dice everything. He wanted me and my son. He wanted to love me. So, I stepped out on my marriage and followed this man.
Two failed marriages now.
I married this man and we got pregnant right away. I was excited and I was happy. I wasn’t as scared and my mental health was in a good place. Until I found out my baby was a girl. Then, I was scared to death. I again started making promises to God and bargaining with him. Please let her live. Please let her live. That was my prayer day in and day out. My husband was very attentive and was so good to me. I thought I found the happily ever after. Our daughter was born. She was perfect and beautiful. My husband was over the moon in love with his daughter, but not so much with my son from my previous marriage. It was different and I was compensating for what my husband was not doing with my son. I was focused on making sure that my son was ok and feeling loved that I kind of neglected bonding with my daughter in the beginning. I felt guilty and I felt like a terrible mother. My mental health started to decline and I knew it was time to get help again. Not only from the doctors and therapists, but God. I needed God in my life and I had been so angry and had lost him a long time ago. I started changing things. I started being my kids to church and getting involved. I felt whole. My kids were happy. My marriage was great…..or so I thought. It came time for my husband to be deployed. We had been through them before but this was going to be a year long deployment. How am I going to do this? With God, that’s how. When he came home things were not right. I found out that while I was at home trying to hold down the fort and raise two children he was away having a full blown affair. My world shattered. Completely shattered. I begged him to fix our marriage. I would do whatever it took. My mental health was now worse than ever. I couldn’t even focus on that so it took a back seat. Which meant sleeping a lot. Crying a lot. Mood swings. Guilt. All of it. After months and months of the back and forth….i knew it was over. He wanted to be with her.
That is when I put on my big girl panties and decided I would move my children and I from Florida to NY and start over. My son wanted to live with his father in Virginia and didn’t want to come to NY. Another blow to my mental health. Sadly, I didn’t fight him. I didn’t try and convince him to come with my daughter and I. I let him go live with his father. I will forever regret that decision. My family was a mess. Nothing like I imagined it would be.
Another marriage ended up in divorce.
My daughter and I lived with my mother at my grandmothers house. It wasn’t a healthy situation, but it was all we had at the moment. My mental health was off track but I had no insurance to get the help I needed so I put it to the side. Always thinking I could deal with it on my own.
I met my 4th husband and we got married right away. He was amazing to me and BOTH my kids. At points he was better than their own fathers. He accepted me and all my flaws and baggage. I was honest about my mental health and he supported me. We had our own issues but we had a good life. I look back now and see how my mental health played a role in our whole marriage. Sleeping all the time. Crying. Not being able to make decisions. The social anxiety. I just let my mental health take over and didn’t get any help for it. I always thought I had it under control, when in reality, it controlled every minute of my life. Regardless, we still had a good life. We laughed a lot and we did things. We talked and laughed for hours. He took care of me and my kids.
My husband tragically died in front of me 4 years ago. I couldn’t save him. I watched him struggle to breathe for 15 minutes before he took his final breath and passed away. I could not believe what was happening to me. I could not believe that I was experiencing such a great loss again. How? Why? What have I done to deserve this? I have no true words to describe the time after his passing. It was awful. It was the second worse time in my life. My mental health was out of control but I knew I needed help. I knew I couldn’t do this again alone. I made the first appointment and have never stopped. I got to a very healthy place in my life and he would be so proud of me.
I fell in love with the most unexpected person ever….his brother. Wow. I don’t know how it happened or why, but we needed each other and together we have survived my husband’s death. The aftermath of this was not easy to deal with….understandably. Some were very supportive and some still do not speak to us. We have lost some friends over our decision and that has been painful, but I will say that we are both the healthiest we have ever been. We are happy and my mental health is the best that it has ever been.
In October, two years ago, my father was sick and my brother went to see him and find out what was going on. Now my father was my hero. He is the only one that stood by my side through everything. He was the most important man in my life. He was my constant. My hero had terminal lung cancer. Was given until Christmas to live. It was a devastating time for all of my family. I was blessed enough to tell him everything I ever wanted to tell him. I was blessed enough to let him know how much he meant to me. I thanked God every day for the time he allowed us to have with my dad. Sadly, my dad passed away on Christmas Day two years ago. How I miss him. How my life has changed since then.
I write my story, not for pity, but to show you that you can survive the things you don’t think you can. Every death I have experienced has taught me something. I have learned from each one. Each one was different and the pain was different.
I was back and forth with god for so many years. Now, I sit and look back and realize he had it all planned out. I had to experience tough losses so that I was prepared for the next loss he knew was coming. I am no longer angry with God and I don’t question him anymore. Even with my mental health issues. He gives me the answers. He knows what I need when I need it.
At 50, my life is not what I thought it would be, but I am perfectly happy with what it is.